So. There’s a novella called The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2, written by Carlton Mellick III and published by Eraserhead Press. I borrowed it from James Raggi. This is important to note. I did not pay money for this. This was not, you understand, due to any kind of misapprehension that it might be actually good, but because of my curiosity about a gaming novel that’s not a campaign setting tie-in and I thought it might be funny. I suppose I should have a disclaimer here about how the following post may offend some people, but if you didn’t get that from the title already, I’m not sure I can help you.
I am told that the novel’s genre is called “bizarro fiction”, which, as far as I can tell, is a Robert Rankin-esque ploy to get a section of the bookstore all to themselves. Since a reviewer should be aware of the cultural context of a work, I looked it up on Wikipedia. The article reads like an ad for Eraserhead Press, but the relevant bit is that bizarro fiction “strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.”
The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2 is the story of a pair of hapless adventurers, the halfling fighter Polo and the elf cleric/fighter/ranger/wizard Delvok, who come to realize they are player characters in a roleplaying game. Moreover, their players are morons and their DM acts out his juvenile sexual fantasies (mostly having to do with large-breasted nymphomaniac elves) in the game. The way they come to realize this is by being raped with the eponymous dildo.
For what it’s worth, the author basically apologizes for the stupidity of the book in the preface. The book is wholly aware of how stupid it is.
Now, stupid and immature don’t automatically mean bad, right? South Park is funny. Oglaf is hilarious. A capable writer can work wonders with material like this, and the idea of PCs gaining awareness of living in a game is interesting.
Carlton Mellick III, I’m afraid, is not that writer. It’s not funny. It’s just dicks and tits and rape over and over again, badly-written porn interspersed with badly-drawn porn. The result neither titillates nor amuses.
The main problem is the artlessness of the prose. Combat scenes read like a dishwasher manual. A comic writer’s toolbox contains things like similes, euphemisms, zeugmas and hyperbole. Mellick’s can be barely said to contain vocabulary, let alone a punchline. There is no wit. Here’s an excerpt to illustrate, when they cast detect invisibility:
She reads the incantation on the scroll and the spell goes into effect. Slowly, seven figures come into view as their invisibility becomes detected. We point our weapons at them, prepared for battle.
When the figures become clear, we fall back. The figures are seven elderly men. All of them are masturbating furiously, staring at Loxi’s nude breasts.
“What the fuck?” Loxi says.
The men don’t realize we can see them. They just continue masturbating and licking their lips.
“Have these guys been following us around this whole time?” Juzii asks. “Watching us while invisible?”
“They saw when we had sex?” I ask, meaning when I had sex with Loxi and Juzii, not with Itaa.
That is how the entire book is written. There’s an idea of a joke that is then presented in this matter-of-fact, simple style that evokes a 12-year-old’s school essay for third-year English as a Second Language. It could be done on purpose, of course, to reflect that Polo isn’t very clever and neither are the gamers governing his world, but then, what’s the point? What would be the purpose of writing a pastiche of a bad D&D fanfic? The nostalgia explanation does not fly since even the players do not seem to be having much fun. (And for what it’s worth, I find the depiction of D&D at the age of 14 quite foreign, apart from this one girl whose characters were a succession of Sharessan clerics.) You could go all Brecht and claim deliberate Verfremdungseffekt, except that while the I was very effectively distanced from the work, it serves no purpose. There’s nothing there.
The game being played is a pathetic and distasteful affair, but its depiction, in serving no purpose other than to depict it, fails to distance itself and becomes an equally pathetic and distasteful affair. It is a work of banal drivel that seems to think sex and rape and bodily functions are a functional substitute for humour and does not even get inventive in its perversion. Seriously, with over three decades of D&D at his disposal, some of it rather suspect to begin with, the most creative the author gets is a crossdressing gnoll. Had John Wilmot and Marquis de Sade lived to read The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2, they would have died of embarrassment. Having unimaginative and mediocre narrators is no excuse for having an unimaginative and mediocre narrative.
In summary, The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2 wastes its own potential. The jokes fall flat, the prose is dead, and the most bizarre thing about the work is its lack of imagination. Its few good ideas are suffocated by the inanity of the whole. The writing of this review has entertained me far more than reading the book itself, which is a mistake I recommend nobody else repeat.